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4 posts from September 2011

September 29, 2011

How to Cite a Musical Score

by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

JeffSheet music may not be the first thing you think of citing in APA Style. However, there is a large body of research on the topic of music and emotion, not to mention the specialty of music therapy. And where there is research, there must be citation!

Basically, a musical score is analogous to a book. The underlying format is as follows:

Composer, A. A. (Date). Title of work. Location: Publisher.

However, you may need to include a little more information in square brackets to identify for the reader which score you used (e.g., the vocal vs. the orchestral score):

Picker, T. (Composer), & McClatchy, J. D. (Librettist). (1995). 
An opera in two acts [Score and parts]. Mainz,
Germany: Schott Helicon.

Text citation: (Picker & McClatchy, 1995)

If you're using something like a Dover reprint of an old score, there’s no need to include the information about the original publishing company, but do include the original publication date:

Haydn, F. J. (2001). The creation. Mineola, NY: Dover. (Original work 
published 1798)

Text citation: (Haydn, 1798/2001)

Your reference should contain only the information needed to help your reader find the source you used. Aside from composer, date, title, and location, most of the necessary information can be included in square brackets after the title. However, some classical composers’ works are known by unique catalogue numbers, and these should be included as part of the title:

Mozart, W. A. (1970). Die Zauberflöte [The magic flute], K. 620 [Vocal 
score]. Munich, Germany: Becksche Verlagsbuchhandlung. (Original
work published 1791)

Text citation: (Mozart, 1791/1970)

Do you have a baffling reference that you’re not sure how to cite? Take a look at our series on creating your own reference, or e-mail us at styleexpert@apastyle.org

September 22, 2011

Me, Myself, and I

More Tales From the Style Expert Inbox

by Jeff Hume-Pratuch

Jeff Dear Style Expert,

My professor said that if I express my own opinion in a paper, I have to cite myself in text. Do I have to put myself in the reference list too, or is it more like a personal communication? It seems kind of odd to be citing a communication with yourself.

Dear Irene,

Although it’s a basic principle of scientific writing that “researchers . . . give credit where credit is due” (APA Publication Manual, 6th ed., p. 15) when they use the words and ideas of others, it’s really not necessary to cite yourself as the source of your own opinion. After all, your name is on the title page.

Your professor may be trying to encourage you to distinguish your opinions from conclusions you have drawn on the basis of empirical evidence. Generally, however, authors indicate their opinions by introducing them with a phrase such as “In my opinion,” “I think,” or “I believe.” (And yes, it’s perfectly OK to use first-person pronouns for this purpose in APA Style.)

In short, citing yourself as an authority on your own opinion is just not done in APA Style—or any form of serious communication. (Just ask Bob Dole.)

Hope this helps,


Got a nagging question about APA Style? Send it to us at StyleExpert@apastyle.org!

September 15, 2011

Best of the APA Style Blog: Fall 2011 Edition

Chelsea blog 2
by Chelsea Lee

Welcome back students and professors! Last fall we put together a “best of” feature on the blog, and this year we will continue the tradition with an updated set of posts from the APA Style Blog and our parent site, apastyle.org. We hope it will be helpful as new batches of students set upon the task of learning and implementing APA Style. You can get the full story in our sixth edition Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association and extra guidance via the links below.

Getting Started With APA Style

What is APA Style? APA 6th ed. Publication Manual

Why is APA Style needed?

A tutorial for those totally new to APA Style

A tutorial for those using the 6th edition manual for the first time

FAQs about APA Style

Get the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) 


Sample Papers in APA Style

Sample Paper 1

Sample Paper 2

Sample meta-analysis paper

Sample published APA article


What To Do If Your Reference Isn’t in the Manual (a.k.a. How References Work)

Learn how references work


How To Cite...  

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 




Legal references (constitutions, etc.)

Paraphrased work

Secondary sources (sources you found in another source)


Website material


How to Format...

Running heads


Lists (lettered, numbered, or bulleted)





Still Need Help?

We have many resources to help you with your APA Style papers, and we think that you will find most questions are addressed in the Publication Manual (read Chapters 6 and 7 especially for help with references), on the blog, or in our FAQ. Please contact us if you need further assistance and we’ll be happy to help.

Finally, if you’re interested in receiving periodic tips about APA Style and notifications about new blog content, you can also keep in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter

September 08, 2011

Group Authors

Timothy McAdoo by Timothy McAdoo

In 2010, the estimated number of websites was 255 million. That translates to a staggering number of individual webpages. Who’s writing all those pages? And, how should you cite them in APA Style?

In this post, I’ll focus on just one possibility: group authors.  Although the “who” element for many references is an individual author or authors, “who” can also be a group author. This is often the case for white papers, press releases, and information pages (e.g., “About Us”) on company websites.

For example, the "about" page on the American Psychological Association site (http://www.apa.org/about/) was surely written by one or more real people. But, because no individual byline is listed and because this resides on the organization’s webpage, you would reference it as a group author. That is, the “who” in your reference is a group author.


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). About APA. Retrieved from

Notice that the author portion still ends with a period.

In the reference, spell out the full group author name.  Though you may choose to abbreviate the author name in text, spell it out in the reference list.

In your text, use the author–date format for citations. In this example, the author is “American Psychological Association” and the date is “n.d.”


    According to the American Psychological Association (n.d.), “psychology is a diverse discipline, grounded in science, but with nearly boundless applications in everyday life” (Definition of "Psychology," para. 1).

If you include the citation many times in your paper, you might want to abbreviate the group author name. If so, this introduction should be included with the first use in text:


    According to the American Psychological Association (APA, n.d., Definition of "Psychology," para. 1), “psychology is a diverse discipline, grounded in science, but with nearly boundless applications in everyday life.”

If you decide to abbreviate, do so consistently throughout the paper. Spelling out the name in some sections and abbreviating in others can confuse the reader.

Note that you are not required to abbreviate, even if the group author name appears frequently in your text. The Publication Manual (p. 176) recommends writing out the name of group authors, even if used many times in your text, if the group author name is short or “if the abbreviation would not be readily understandable.”

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